Societies Issue Recommendations on Processing Biohazardous Medical Waste

Five societies joined in issuing guidance to personnel and health care organizations for how to handle these wastes, including waste contaminated with the Ebola virus.

Prompted by questions about how to correctly handle Ebola-contaminated biohazardous medical waste, five societies have issued a joint advisory statement to provide guidance to personnel and health care organizations. The statement from the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, Association of Surgical Technologies, Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, and the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management addresses the use of sterilizers for processing biohazardous waste in a health care facility.

It does not address transporting biohazardous waste or processing of contaminated reusable medical devices and textiles.

They noted this is "an evolving issue and health care professionals should review current research and incorporate new evidence into practice to mitigate occupational and patient risk associated with handling biohazardous medical waste."

The recommendations are:

  • Health care organizations should not circumvent established protocols for handling biohazardous medical waste.
  • Biohazardous medical waste should not be brought into clean areas where processing reusable medical devices is performed.
  • Biohazardous medical waste should not be inactivated in a sterilizer that is used for processing reusable medical devices.
  • Sterilizers used to inactivate biohazardous medical waste should be designed and validated for that particular purpose.
  • Organizations should work with infection preventionists and keep abreast of evolving professional and regulatory guidelines for handling biohazardous medical waste.
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